Off-roading can be one of the most fun and exciting ways to spend your free time, but it is a hobby that requires careful thought and preparation as well. Obtaining the gear needed to outfit your off-road vehicle will ensure that you are not only keeping up with the latest trends but also prepared in case of unforeseen events. That is because sooner or later, every off-roader will get stuck in a dune, a mud pit or a bog.
It probably goes without saying, but the tires you are using to drive around town will not make the grade when you go off-road. All-terrain radials are usually a fine solution for people who plan to do a combination of back-road and off-road traveling. However, there are also tires specially made for heavy-duty conditions such as rock-climbing and extreme mud.
Off-Road Light Bars
The standard lights that you use for everyday driving will absolutely not live up to the challenge of off-road conditions. You will need off-road vehicle light bars at dawn, dusk and even midday in shady or cloudy conditions.
If you really want to impress your comrades, you could certainly go for broke and purchase a huge, roof-mounted LED light bar, but you certainly don’t need to do so. A good set of fog lights will suffice as long as you use them in combination with your stock headlights.
Just as you should keep this handy appliance conveniently located in your home, you should one readily available in your off-road vehicle. Should the worst happen and a blaze start, the extinguisher can quickly put it out, minimizing the danger to you, your passengers and your vehicle. In addition, it protects the environment around you from going up in flames as well.
If there is one piece of gear absolutely needed to outfit your off-road vehicle, it is the Hi-Lift jack. This is because it can perform such a diverse array of tasks, including functioning as a rudimentary winch.
Use it to recover when you are stuck in a rut or off high-center. It is also indispensable if you need to make emergency repairs while you’re in the midst of an adventure. It can even come in handy to help hold your wheel on if you break an axle.
Most off-roading clubs require that you have a supply of these in your vehicle - and for good reason. You can attach one to another vehicle if yours gets stuck and use it as a makeshift winch. All you need to do is attach it to a friend’s un-stuck vehicle, ask him to drive forward and get behind the wheel. Prepare to start driving as soon as the un-stuck car jerks you forward. Keep in mind that recovery straps are somewhat elastic, which can amplify the jerk you experience when you are extricated.
You don’t need to have a flashback to the 1970s to appreciate the benefits of a CB radio or a PA system, particularly when you are off-roading. These handy gadgets enable you to communicate with friends or other members of your club even over the loud noise of revving engines. They are also a great way to get the word out if you need to be rescued from difficult terrain.
Into your trail kit will go the many miscellaneous but nevertheless important accessories that will make your off-road experience safer. Over time, you will probably find that you change the kit’s contents to suit your individual preferences, but these suggestions are a good start:
- Scrap wood and a shovel to build a mound under your vehicle if you get stuck
- A good pair of work gloves
- A fully stocked first aid kit and enough water to keep you hydrated for a few days in case you get stranded
- Basic tools to make vehicle repairs
- Jumper cables
- Compass, map and GPS
Not Essential But Also Recommended
- Rock sliders, bumpers and skid plates. These items will protect the underside of your vehicle as well as your bumpers if you are going through rocky terrain. Bumpers also offer a great place to mount winches and jack lift points. Your vehicle comes with basic skid plates that offer some form of protection for your oil pan and fuel tank. However, purchasing after-market skid plates is often recommended for off-road conditions.
- A winch. This tool is not an absolute necessity for off-roading, but it certainly comes in handy if you get stuck and there isn’t another vehicle nearby to pull you out. Should you decide to buy a winch, understand that it is a significant investment. Only purchase one that is rated at twice your vehicle’s weight. You also need a way to mount it such as a winch bumper.
- Winch accessories. If you do decide to get a winch, you should also have trunk protectors and snatch blocks. Trunk protectors are thick straps that protect the trunk of the tree that you are winching against. Snatch blocks are industrial strength pulleys that effectively double the power of your winch. Just run your rope from your vehicle to the block that is attached to an immovable object such as a tree and then bring it back to your vehicle.
If you are a newcomer to the world of off-roading, you have found a pastime that is sure to give you countless weekends of great memories with friends out in the country’s open spaces. Taking time to obtain the gear needed to outfit your off-road vehicle in advance will help to ensure that you, your friends and the environment remain safe.